School board approves lease of Southern Designs building for new central office

Published 2:08 pm Tuesday, April 16, 2024

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VIDALIA, La. — Concordia Parish School Board may soon have a new home for central office workers — for the next six months at least — at the former Southern Designs building.

The school board approved leasing the building for six months at $3,600 per month, which is subject to its owner agreeing to changes the school board wants to make to the lease agreement.

The requested change comes after board member Derrick Carson had reservations about a clause in the lease about purchasing the building and language that says if the school board fails to submit “written termination” of the lease after six months, then they would be tied to the lease for another 36 months.

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“I just don’t want us to get locked into obligating ourselves for another three years after that first six months,” he said. “If we could do some sort of extension for six months or a year, I’m totally fine with it. But I’m not interested in obligating ourselves to purchase something that we wouldn’t if we don’t know that we’re going to be able to fund that.”

Board members also wanted it specified that the lease would commence after they are able to secure fiber internet service in the building so that workers can immediately start their duties.

Board member Matt Taunton made the motion to enter the six-month lease with these changes and the motion was seconded by Wayne Wilson before it passed unanimously.

While not committed to buying the building for a new central office, Board President Lisette Foreman said the lease “will give our superintendent and her staff a place to call home for six months, which I think all of us are in agreement that it’s past due.”

District Superintendent Toyua Bachus said, “I will take six months over working in my car.”

The central office workers have been staggered at other school buildings in the district since closing the existing central office because of a mold issue in September 2022.

The former Southern Designs building at 4894 U.S. 84 in Vidalia has nine office spaces that would be move-in ready as soon as an agreement is reached and internet and phone lines are wired.

Southern Designs CEO Tance Hughes announced his company was going out of business in 2023 after a 15-year run. The building is for sale at a $1.8 million purchase price.